Pro cycling information flows across the twitterverse – for better or for worse. Major races give up-to-the-minute, GPS fueled race position information. But what if you want to know every single detail of what Team RadioShack is doing at any given moment? Well, thanks to bikereviews.com I now know – there’s an app for that.
Team Saxo Bank announced their lineup for the 2010 Tour de France. No huge surprises really:
- Fabian Cancellara
- Andy Schleck
- Fränk Schleck
- Jens Voigt
- Stuart O’Grady
- Matti Breschel
- Chris Anker Sørensen
- Jakob Fuglsang
- Nicki Sørensen
- Gustav Larsson – on standby in case of injury
Team owner Bjarne Riis is quoted on the Team Saxo Bank website as saying:
We have ten riders on our Team of which all are ready and fit to do the race and that has made the job of selecting the line-up extremely difficult. That’s why the decision has been made of tactical reasons. It has been a problem of pure luxury but it’s not easy telling a rider to stay home when you know he would have done a great job in the race. However, we are now looking forward to a Tour de France with Team Saxo Bank in front of the race.
It is unquestionable that twitter has had a huge impact on cycling. It is probably safe to say that a lot of cyclists – both recreational and pro – would have never heard of the social media and microblogging service if it were not for the tweets of a particular American Pro Cyclist. “Tweets” – or postings to twitter – are increasingly becoming one of the most accurate and timely sources of information on the international racing scene.
There have been many international scene races in the last year or so where numerous fans on the roads have helped to provide up to the minute race coverage. However, perhaps the power of Twitter as a source of pro cycling news came to a head most poignantly at the 2010 Amgen Tour of California when there were folks tweeting events as they happened – from cars in the pro peloton. I know that personally, as I was positioned at various finish lines of the race, I became a sudden celeb in the crowd of folks I happened to find myself in. It was not because of any particular status or insight. Rather, it was because I was able to capture these up-to-the-minute tweets right there, at the finish line, on my smartphone. I knew where the peloton was, who was in the breaks, and how many km were left to go.
There is a very long tradition of getting dad a tie for Father’s Day (that’s June 20 this year, by the way.) But what if Dad’s favorite pastime involves a saddle, two wheel and two pedals? As a general rule, folks don’t wear neck ties on the weekend group rides.
Luckily, there are a number of items – ranging from the relatively inexpensive to the completely extravagant – that can fill the bill. Here’s a list of some ideas in no particular order:
- Socks. Socks are probably the closest analogy to the tie for the cyclist dad. They provide that splash of color, that personalization, to whatever kit dad wears. Get him socks for his favorite pro cycling team (Does dad have a favorite pro cycling team? If so, do you know who they are?) Or maybe some socks branded with the logo of the company that made his favorite bike. Perhaps some uber-high tech socks, utilizing the latest research in nano-technology, genetic engineering, interstellar travel and manipulation of the public through advertising (you’ll recognize them by their inclusion of PhD, Tek or Sci in the name). Or, maybe just socks with a cutesy saying embroidered on em.
- Cycling Caps. Another good substitute for the neck tie. You’ll need to be a little careful with these, though, as some men don’t like to wear them casually. Know Thy Father! However, if dad is into the caps, you can find these ranging from the common manufacturer-labeled black styles, to the omni-present Capo caps, to the stuffy “let’s ride to Cambridge on our classic Bianchi” wool variety. (Hint: this last item might be a good fit for dad if you’ve heard him use the phrases “Brooks,” “leather,” “saddle,” and “I own” in combination in the same sentence.) And just like socks, know what components dad rides (ask if you don’t know – he’ll be more than happy to talk about them for a few hours) and get him a cap that matches his crankset.
- Spare Tubes. OK – a little caveat here. Giving spare tubes to dad may evoke a similar reaction to giving a new vacuum cleaner to mom on Mother’s Day. It depends entirely on the person. Spare tubes are an extremely practical, and completely unsexy gift. They will be greeted with either gratitude or fits of fury. Again, Know Thy Father! If you do, however, happen to know one of those practical type dads, be damn sure you know the difference between presta and schrader valves (Know Thy Valves). Check the bike while he is sleeping if you don’t know for sure.
- Jersey Always a sure hit – but expect things a little more on the pricey side ($75-$150). See Socks and Cycling Caps above for logo ideas. When all else fails, go for a beer themed jersey.
- New Bike. OK. If you are seriously looking at this item and considering it as an option, I’ll recommend the Pinarello Dogma. If you are still seriously considering this item, please contact me ASAP, as I can assist you with disposal if dad doesn’t like the bike you selected for him for some reason.
Finally. Out of Europe. Video evidence that rush hour traffic can actually be enjoyable! And a little less noisy too.
West Coast GoldSprints trailer was stolen. Read the story at http://www.bikemonkey.net/?p=9125#more-9125. Spread the word in any way you can. Help them find their equipment.
GoldSprints are indoor (i.e. on trainers) cycle racing. Often taking place in a party type atmosphere, these events have ties back to the pubs of Europe where (it is my understanding) they got their start. West Coast Gold Sprints is one of the premier promoters of these type of events on the US west coast. These events require a whole lot of equipment – including not just bikes and trainers but audio/visual equipment, computers, etc.
West Coast GoldSprints is also the orginization staging at least some (if not all) of the Mike’s Bikes hosted races.
If ever there was a time to be part of the “cycling community,” it is times like this.
If you ride your bike on the public streets, it is inevitable that someone will pull out in front of you. Sooner or later, you’ll be forced to grab a handful of brake lever (or worse) as someone darts out of their driveway or turns in front of you into a parking lot.
Ever since my previous post on car/cyclist interactions, I’ve been thinking about this more and more. To be very honest, I ride in the flow of traffic quite a bit, and I’ve never really had any major troubles. I’ve had a few close calls, but nothing really more significant than the countless close calls I’ve had behind the wheel of a car. I did get into a tangle with a car that pulled a right turn directly in my path, but neither myself, my bike nor the car was significantly damaged, and the driver was apologetic and basically just made a mistake. In short – I’m not hostile to cars, nor do I feel particularly threatened while I ride on the roads (perhaps just my naivety.)
However, I had one of these near misses just the other day. I was traveling along (in a marked bike lane, for the record) when a driver approaching from the other direction turned on her left turn signal. She stopped, preparing to make her left turn into a parking lot, and clearly looked right at me. I continued at my current speed (maybe 15-18 MPH) Then … she turned right in front of me. It was when her car was completely blocking the bike lane that she again looked out of her passenger window and saw me. Unfortunately she did the absolute last thing I wanted her to do. She slammed on her brakes, completely blocking the bike lane I was riding in and stared at me with a completely startled and bewildered expression.
I managed to swerve around the back of her vehicle without incident, but I considered how this may have happened for the rest of the ride home. Coincidentally this general situation was brought up on episode #158 of The FredCast. In that podcast, David Bernstein describes “being invisible”, attributing situations like the one I experienced to motorists not even seeing cyclists.
However, I’m not so sure that is always the case. In my situation, I clearly saw her look right at me. Is it possible that she looked at me without actually seeing me? Did she just look right through me as David Bernstein suggests? Or is there possibly something else going on here.
Obviously we all (all of us that drive cars, that is) make turns in front of other cars. However, usually we do this in a way that ensures we’ve completed our turn before the other car comes anywhere near us. In other words, we look at oncoming traffic, judge their speed, and make a decision to proceed if we believe that we can complete our maneuver safely without getting in the way of the other car. Usually this is done automatically – watching the other car for a period of time long enough for us to determine the relative speed.
I propose that a good deal of these “invisible cyclist” incidents are actually more of a “poorly judged cyclist speed” situation. And why would drivers be prone to misjudge a cyclist’s speed? I think it may just be due to assumptions about how fast most folks ride their bikes. I don’t think that she didn’t see me – but rather she saw that I was on a bike and immediately made the assumption “slow” without taking the time to actually watch me and accurately judge my rate of speed. Maybe this woman’s only experiences with bikes include spinning along at 5MPH on her beach cruiser, or watching the grandkids riding circles in the driveway. Perhaps the possibility of a cyclist traveling at 15, 20, 30 or more miles per hour is just not within her realm of expectation.
Interestingly enough, I first came up with this idea not related to cycling – but rather while driving an old 1971 VW Bus. It seemed that folks tended to pull out in front of me a whole lot more driving that big green bus then they did any of my other cars. I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time – I mean, it is a lot easier to see a VW Bus that most sedans and sports cars. However, it occurred to me one day that those Volkswagens just look slow. They’re boxy and have a reputation for not going very fast. There are a lot of different inputs that us humans use to judge our environment – and many of them are based on past experiences and memories. If you are used to riding slowly on a bike, or seeing others ride slowly on a bike, you are more likely to assume that all bikes go slow.
Ultimately it really doesn’t make any difference why someone pulls directly into your path (either on a bicycle or in a classic VW) as the end result is the same – you’ve got to be ready to take some quick evasive actions. However, if there is any validity to this “y’all just think I’m slower than I am” theory, it can mean that you become more likely to run into these situations as you become a stronger and faster cyclist.
Just something to think about as you’re spinning along our highways and byways.
Addendum: Now I’m not so arrogant as to assume I’m the first person to think of this, but it was interesting that almost as soon as I’d saved this post I ran across a mention of a similar idea on http://bicyclesafe.com/ in their description of the “right hook” car/bike accident:
A car passes you and then tries to make a right turn directly in front of you, or right into you. They think you’re not going very fast just because you’re on a bicycle, so it never occurs to them that they can’t pass you in time.
I’ve spent a few hours recently plotting and scheming about how to get my hands on an XtraCycle (and a steel frame to attach it to) when I stumbled across this set of photos. This has got to be the absolute coolest weddings ever – well, aside from my own of course. Although it looks like the wedding party came up a little short. While they did a great job on the streamers and such – shouldn’t there be some more cans tied on the back of that Surly Big Dummy?
It is an interesting look into the nature of the strained relationship between cyclists and motorists that some of the most vehement, hate-filled arguments between the groups will take place in the comments of articles posted online on local newspapers websites. It seems that whenever an article about a cyclist getting hit by a car and seriously injured or killed is put up, those that believe cyclists shouldn’t be on the road come out in force to voice their outrage at the situation. In almost all cases, this ends up with statements about how the cyclist just shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place, and ties in many generalizations and stereotypes about how all cyclists are reckless and cyclists never follow the rules of the road.
So why do some motorists view cyclists in such a negative light? Are cyclists out there, running rampant across our roads, looking for every opportunity to thumb their noses in the face of drivers and their “rules of the road?” Well clearly there are cyclists that do break the laws. For many different reasons – which I will go into shortly – cyclists have been known roll past stop signs without stopping, or creep through red lights before they turn green. So there, I’ve admitted it right? I’ve clearly acknowledged the motorists point of view that cyclists are a bunch of law breakers. Not so fast… The motorist’s argument suffers from two flawed assumptions. First, by talking about what “cyclists” do the statement implies that all cyclists do the same things and for the same reason. Any reasonable person would see this as a falsehood. Secondly, the motorist making this argument states that cyclists don’t belong on the road because they are all lawbreakers. However, this argument only works if motorists are not lawbreakers. In fact on almost any trip down an interstate highway you will see numerous motorists breaking the speed limit. Should we perhaps argue that the freeways should be shut down – cars banned – until motorists stop being “a bunch of lawbreakers?” I’ve also noticed that, especially at the suburban 4-way stops that I may be likely to roll through on my bike, a fair number of motorists don’t come to complete stops either. The term “California Stop” refers to cars – not bicycles.
Once we acknowledge that folks operating both bikes and cars can and do routinely break the law, where does that leave us? At this point many of the anti-cyclist crowd will begin to cite unequal punishments for cyclists. The first of these arguments is often along the lines of “cyclists don’t need a license, so there is no punishment for them.” I bring this argument up first because it is the weakest. In no state does the application of traffic fines or other punishments require the violator to have a license. For example, in my home state of California I can receive the exact same fine for rolling through a stop sign on my bicycle as I can for driving through it in my car. Furthermore, because I actually am a licensed driver, moving violations on my bicycle actually are recorded as any other traffic infraction – resulting in increased auto insurance rates and potential license suspension or revocation.
The more educated of our anti-cyclist debaters, however, will cite that police just don’t seem to stop cyclists that roll through stop signs or stop lights with the same vigilance they would with cars. While I have no actual numbers, my own personal experience as both a cyclist and a motorist would be to agree with this statement. Unfortunately the common human reaction is one of “if I can’t get away with it, why should anyone else.” However, if we actually consider the job of the police officers we will see that this apparent lack of enforcement is probably not some sort of preferential treatment, but rather just common sense.
Our police officers obviously can not catch all crimes. Instead, they have to make decisions about how best to use their time and limited resources to do the greatest good for society as a whole. As an extreme example, if an officer sees a person jaywalking, while a fist fight has started across the street, no one would claim preferential treatment for law breaking pedestrians if the officer did not take the time to ticked the jay walker and instead dealt with the assault situation. This is just common sense.
Even more so, it is about the actual damage potential to society. Argue the fairness of it all you like, it is simply far less dangerous to society for a bicycle to be ridden through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop than it is for an automobile. The potential for damage caused by a bicycle hitting something or someone is just far less.
When I think about these arguments, however, there is one fact that occurs to me that I believe might be fundamental to the differences between the sides – and hopefully key to bridging that gap. The vast majority of cyclists on the road also drive cars. This means that many cyclists see both sides of the issue, know what effect a cyclist can have on a driver as they share traffic lanes, and thus would hopefully have a more rounded and balanced viewpoint. The reverse, however, can not be said. The vast majority of motorists do not ride bicycles on the roadways. They are not aware of some of the issues faced by cyclists trying to find safe space on the road. Perhaps if we can increase that understanding and awareness all of those comments following the online news posts would be more about identifying dangerous intersections and pushing for improvements as opposed to the continued “cars rule, and if you bike you’re a fool” mantra.